My Wish

I can hear the soft whisper of your voice. I can feel the moment of thinking, “you’ll never be happier”. I can see my hand reach over to yours and hold on to it tight. 

I can hear the words, “Emily Irene Hoisington, I love you with everything inside of me, and I can’t wait to make you officially mine forever.”

And then I can hear it, “My wish for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, your dreams stay big, your worries stay small….. and while you’re out there gettin where you’re getting to, I hope you know that somebody loves you and wants the same things too…”

I remember it like it was yesterday. You got in the car, just months before you said goodbye forever and you said “Babe I have something to tell you.”

I remember the look in your eye, the fear that swept over your face, and I began to brace myself for what came  out of your mouth next. You looked at me and said “My grades are not good. I don’t know what else to do, I just don’t think I am going to be able to graduate on time next year.. My classes are just too hard.”

I took another glance at you and knew you were serious. I knew how serious it was simply by the fact that you were telling me this, vulnerably.

So I paused. I grabbed your hand and said, “Babe what can we do, what I can I do? How bad is it?”

I’ll never forget this moment. I cherish it every single day and I can picture myself sitting in the car, reliving this moment day after day.

It was a moment where I fell in love with you all over again.

You had a tear falling down your face and said, I need tutors, I need to be tutored every single day. I want to graduate on time babe, I want to start life with you after we graduate and you know how strange and weird that is for me to get married so young but I have to have you as my wife. I need you to know that the next few months, I have to put all of my time into school and that’s where I need your help. You can’t get mad if I can’t hang out or if I don’t see you all day every day for the next few months, I have to put school first.”

I can hear you saying it. Word for word.

I can hear the words, “Emily Irene Hoisington, I love you with everything inside of me, and I can’t wait to make you officially mine forever.”

I remember pulling away and the song “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts coming on. I remember you making me giggle as you came close to my face and began singing it in my ear. I can hear you telling me that this song is for me, that this is your wish for me and that you were going to make all of my wishes come true.

And I remember how incredibly hard you worked that last semester to bring your grades up, preparing yourself to graduate with me.

For us, marriage was always a topic of conversation, I remember you texting me two weeks after we started dating and said “I just walked by Fresh Berry and the song ‘Think I’m gonna marry you came on ;)’.  I remember my heart fluttering, hesitating before I responded, trying to make sure I didn’t seem too excited by that text.

We fought about marriage, well the timing of our marriage. You were set on graduating college first and as you put it in a letter I just read from you freshman year, you “need to make money first because I could never take not being able to support you as my wife.”

Oh I would argue and argue with you. I would tell you that I would rather suffer together and live in a box on the road with no food then wait for us to make money to be together. I would say that love conquerors all problems and that it didn’t matter what we went through, as long as we were together.

We would argue and you wouldn’t budge. You would tell me that you were going to marry me, that it wasn’t an option to ever not to, that you were the one for me, the only one for me. As we fought about it, we fought passionately. You didn’t want to be like every other southern couple, you wanted to be different.

I’ll never forget the day, in my eyes, you became different from every other guy. I brought up getting married after graduation again and you looked at me said, with the sweetest voice, “Babe, I don’t want to be like every one else down here.”

And as I started to get worked up again, you grabbed my cheeks, told me to stop talking, looked in my eyes and said, “I don’t want to be like every other couple down here but I realized that we will never be.” You said, “There is no Chad and Emily. There is no one in this world who loves someone the way I love you and I promise you, I am not going to leave you. You are perfect to me and perfect for me. I am not going to talk about marrying you anymore or the timeline of it, because it is going to happen and I realize that marrying you is all I want and there is no point in waiting. But we are done talking about it.”

Surprisingly enough, this conversation happened the week before you left for Chicago- two weeks before you passed away.

And then I get to Chicago the day after you died and I find out that you were looking at rings with your parents the morning you died.

I write all of this mainly because it’s been consuming my thoughts the past year and a half, but especially the past few weeks. When I write, I get it out and I can process it.

As I prepare to walk the stage tomorrow, I have deep deep sadness, a sadness I haven’t felt in months. I know where I would be right now, who I would be spending my time with, who I would be going to events with, who I would be so excited to watch me walk the stage and who I would be so excited to walk the stage the next day. I know all of it and I feel all of it.

The College of Charleston has given me a life I never dreamed I would live when I first walked those brick sidewalks four year ago. I never would have imagined that within the first 4 months of college, I would have fallen madly madly in love or founded a non-profit. Never.

I also never would have imagined that those same sidewalks that I walked hand in hand with you for two years would hold thousands and thousands of my tears. I never would have imagined that my forever with you would have been so limited.

I sat at graduation practice yesterday and all I could do was hold back tears. It didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel safe to me.

For years we talked about graduation and life after graduation. I would imagine myself sitting on that stage knowing who was watching me below, not caring about leaving college behind because I was about to start a life with you, and nothing else mattered.

As I sat there yesterday and as I prepare myself for tomorrow, my eyes sit heavy with tears and my heart sits heavy on the prayer that God just lets me get through it.

I sat there replaying those conversations in my head, looking down at my ring finger and imagining the ring we always talked about. I vividly imagined catching your eye in the audience (because you would graduate on Saturday with your major) and smiling so big- thinking to myself, “Emily you have everything you’ve ever wanted- you’ll never be happier”.

I reminded myself of where I am in life right now, of how different life is, and I began to catch myself wandering if I was going to make it the next few days.

I know that the graduation you received into Heaven is far better than the one I am experiencing down here- I know that but it does not take the pain away. I know you are with me, that you are watching, that you are so proud of me, but it doesn’t take the pain away.

The pain lies like a cement block in my chest and I hear the enemy say, “This is it for you- you are graduating and your dreams and plans are gone, there is nothing good for you left Emily”. I can hear him.

But then I hear God, with a little voice behind him, telling me that there is more, I can see him holding my limp and weak body up telling me that the pain I am experiencing now is nothing compared to the joy I have coming. I see you, standing behind him, nodding your head at me, reassuring me that God is right, His plan is true, and His promises are real.

Chad Cooke, I can not believe it’s here. I can’t believe it’s tomorrow and I can’t believe I made it. I am in awe and a complete emotional state of thankfulness that I made it. I can’t count on how many times I talked to my parents, my friends, and you- telling you that I was hanging on by a thread and that I needed to take that semester off. I remember saying countless times, begging my parents to let me graduate a semester later, crying that I just couldn’t do it. But here I am. Here we are.

Babe, you gave me the best to years of my life. I will take a lifetime of grieving before I would ever give up the love I have for you and the love I had with you.

My heart is broken knowing you aren’t walking the stage with me down here, but as strange as this is, I picture God giving you a stage up there, and letting you walk across it with me; and it comforts me.

I have so much to say to you Chad Cooke but words will never be able to portray everything I want them to. Right now, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for those two years of falling madly in love day after day. Thank you for making me better, for teaching me so much, and for allowing me to teach you so much. Thank you for striving to be the man God called you to be and thank you for never leaving my side- through the good and the bad.

As this chapter in my story closes tomorrow and I begin to write a new one, I hope you know that these four years will always be my favorite chapters. Yes, even the grief chapter. I will cherish these chapters because you are in them and you never tried to stop being in them, even after you graduated into Heaven. I will cherish them because these are the chapters I will never ever forget- they are chapters that I learned the most about life, I struggled significantly and found our Savior like I never have before, and I fell in love with Chad Cooke. These are the chapters that hold strong lessons that I may never have learned if you didn’t come into my life. These are the chapters that have made me into the person I am today.

I’ll be in my white dress with 5 red roses and one white rose. That white rose is for you baby. Get your white tux on up there because you are walking the stage with me. And you better believe when my name is called, I will be looking for that ray of light.

You are my baby Chad Cooke and tomorrow, well tomorrow is for you.

I love you to the moon and back.

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